Pre-defense, I pictured the time after my defense to be me mostly floating around in flowing gowns, with harps playing, while someone puts a margarita in my hand whenever I need it. I would probably take time to not only smell flowers but somehow acquire a green thumb and grow my own rose garden while also painting fantastic paintings of said rose garden. I would laugh at how stressed out I was before and know that everything was different now that I was a doctor (of philosophy).
In reality, the summer was a whirlwind of trying to rush all the things I wanted to do in Oregon (wine on horseback- check. horse ride on the beach-check), traveling to Acadia for meetings and field work and Rhode Island for a conference then back to Oregon for what one may say was the best enGAYgement party ever held and what felt like rushed goodbyes. A friend-studded beautiful cross country drive and then I was back in New York. As many of you know, just about everything went wrong in that first month that I was here, culminating in a severe case of poison ivy that almost sent me to the hospital on my first day of teaching. I considered writing out everything that went wrong but who really cares about that? It's more important that I've started to take it in stride instead of freak out. Case in point- my washing machine overflowed this week, flooding the whole kitchen and flushing what had to be decades of mouse poo out from behind the washer. I literally didn't bat an eye, just got to sopping it up and moving on. Then I commented on how clean the kitchen floor now seemed and deemed it a win. (sidenote, I probably have hantavirus).
So this is my takeaway for all my struggling grad school friends out there - I like to think that life post defense is just as stressful but somehow I feel much more capable of handling it. Don't get me wrong - I still have full on meltdowns sometimes. But I think that grad school weight of will-i-finish-this-phd, am-i-going-to-get-a-job, am-i-a-failure, am-i-working-hard-enough is mostly gone and I feel more like my normal self. My normal self is fairly neurotic and works a lot, but she also sleeps and takes at least one weekend day off. That's progress right?